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Help working parents—and their kids—with a homework hotline

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When their kids head back to school this month, parents who work for California-based SanDisk won’t have to spend much time figuring out middle-school math problems.

The digital storage manufacturer offers its working parents access to a homework hotline run by WorkLife Innovations. The company bundles its hotline with other benefits, so it costs SanDisk about $1 per employee per year, says Mary-Ellen Rogers, CEO of WorkLife Innovations.

A number of concierge and work/life vendors offer online or telephone-based homework help for employees and their children.

“As parents are working more, they may not be at home with their kids in the afternoon when they’re doing their homework,” says Rogers.

Kids can call the hotline after school and get help from certified teachers to any question in any subject.

“Tutors are encouraged to help them but not give them the answers,” says Cathy Leibow, VP of the concierge service Leverage Life, whose phone-based homework hotline operates from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Kids also can logon to a website, upload their homework and get help in real time through a digital whiteboard. “It’s just visually a little more helpful,” Leibow says.

Kids request the most help with math word problems, equations and basic geometry.

Hospitals, fast-food chains and retail companies are the most interested in the service because their employees often work long shifts that don’t mesh well with their kids’ homework time.

But the children call hotline operators for more than algebra advice. “We find that the homework hotline also kind of serves as a ‘warmline’ for latchkey kids,” Rogers says. “Sometimes the kids just want an adult to talk to.”

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